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By Caroline Downs
The Berthold City Council heard the report from Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson about a proposal starting at $1.5 million to expand the city’s lagoon system, but took no action at the September meeting as a second option was raised to install a mechanical plant.
City engineer Brice Nelson and Andy Evensen of KLJ presented the report, which included a review of the city’s current sewer collection system featuring clay pipe installed in 1958. “The proposed project would rehab that original pipe,” Evensen said.
He explained the city’s system is treating about 43,000 gallons of wastewater each day, with a daily maximum capacity of 40,000 gallons. “Some of it is leaking. Some of it’s evaporating,” he said.
The current lagoon can store between 7 and 8 million gallons according to Evensen, with the state health department requiring enough storage for 180 days.
He said the most cost efficient plan for the city would be to expand onto the current system in phases. “Phase I would be a single cell expansion, with enough capacity for 760 people,” he said, “which is a little bigger than the size of the existing cell.”
He added Phase I could be scheduled to begin April 2014, and the plans contained a pump upgrade for the city’s lift station.
Estimating a population of 1,100 within 20 years, Evensen explained the second phase would be an expansion for up to 1,120 people, with a third phase capable of serving up to 1,450 residents.
“To do that lagoon expansion, we would want to add on primary cells,” he said. “The cost estimate for Phase I, with the cost of the land, is $1.5 million. For construction of each added cell, you should figure roughly $750,000, or Phase II would cost about half of Phase I.”
Mayor Alan Lee asked about the feasibility of the city installing a mechanical wastewater treatment plant and introduced Paul Vogstrom, Bismarck, of Active Water Solutions, LLC.
Vogstrom said his systems would treat 50,000 gallons of wastewater per day, at a cost of $400,000. “Two of those systems would treat a community of about 1,200 people,” he said. “We can have our system here within 30 days, and we’re willing to put it in for two months to show you how it works.”
He said units could be added as the city population increases. “And these can be set up within 200 feet of a residential lot,” he said.
Nelson said the ND Department of Health does not provide funding at this time for mechanical wastewater treatment plants, although the city of Berthold may not need to access funds from the state for the project.
Lee asked Evensen to provide a comparison between the lagoon system and mechanical plant from an engineer’s perspective at the next city council meeting. “We want to do what’s most cost-effective for the city,” he said.
City assessor wants to
reassess homes, save money
Rita Hamsher, tax assessor for Berthold, reported on her new responsibilities as assigned by Ward County to record data about each taxable property onto cards provided for that purpose. She will also attach a photo of each house.
She said information from the data cards would then be entered into a software program, at the county level, that would make the assessment and calculate the property tax. “All local authority will be taken away,” she said. “Your values are going to go up, and it’s looking pretty grim.”
Hamsher, who works for the city on a part-time basis at $100 per month, said she estimated the job of recording the data would take her 30 to 35 hours. Extra time would be needed to take photos of each house in the city, and download and print those.
She requested additional compensation from the council, saying her services would no long be necessary once the new database was complete. “The cards are due October 31st to the county,” she said.
Hamsher also wanted to meet with residents in some of the city’s older homes to reassess those properties before completing the data cards. “I think I can help the elderly or the older homes in town,” she said. “If we reassess them, we can probably find some functional discounts.
Council members approved a motion to pay Hamsher $15 per hour for her work on the database update and reassessment process during the next few weeks. They also approved a recommendation that residents allow her to review their homes for the purpose of reassessing the properties.
“For some homes, that will be helpful,” said Mayor Lee.
Fine for illegal dumping
Council members approved a fine of $500 for any illegal or unapproved dumping as the city continues to sort out its garbage disposal issue.
Public works director Dwight Thompson reported on progress made cleaning the old landfill, with furniture and appliances getting hauled. He also described how the city of Burlington oversees their citizens’ use of garbage rolloffs with a fenced area, cameras, fines and posted hours for availability.
Lee and council members asked Thompson to research price estimates for fencing and security cameras to be installed around the rolloffs placed in Berthold for residents.
Thompson noted he was coordinating the landfill cleanup with the appropriate inspectors and city auditor Penni Miller. “The landfill is clean now, and I locked the gate,” he said, adding that individuals with questions about dumping were welcome to call him.
Water bills need to be paid
Thompson reported 26 new water meters still needed to be installed, with about half of those designated for trailer houses in town.
Miller said the transition to the new billing system was nearly completed, and some residents with past due bills had started making payments. She explained a few residents were several months to a year behind in making any payments, and had not made any attempt to pay despite receiving two letters from her about the situation.
Council members approved a motion to give one resident 10 days to pay a significantly past-due water account in full or have water turned off to that residence.
In a separate action, they approved sending certified letters notifying some residents their lot rent and water accounts were a year behind in payment, with 10 days given to pay the accounts or risk losing water service.
Planning & Zoning action
The council took action on several recommendations made by the Planning & Zoning Committee. Council members approved building permits for construction of a private shop, a temporary storage shed and wind shelters attached to the two trailers used as temporary teacher housing, installation of a chain link fence, construction of a 10x12 deck and a 10x12 shed to replace a deck and shed formerly on the property.
The council also approved the preliminary plat as submitted by Alex Gregg of North Dakota Development for the Prairie Rose Estates and a permit request from Gregg to erect a 3500 square foot office building to be used for his construction business.
Nathan Fegley reported Ward County was adopting a new penalty fee schedule for building permit violations. “If we’re using the county inspector, then it makes sense for us to adopt a similar schedule,” he said.
The council took no official action on the penalty fee schedule, but Ibach and Lee agreed consistency would be important.
In other business:
•Council members approved the minutes of the August meeting and the city’s bills for payment, as presented.
•Mayor Lee announced the city continued to work with accountant Amy Ones to transfer the city’s records to QuickBooks.
•The city had collected $270 in fines, with $4,951 issued in fines to date on 29 citations. “Most of those are traffic-based,” said Thompson, who serves as municipal judge.
•The council tabled action on changes in the municipal judge wages.
•The council approved a motion to accept jurisdiction for the second half mile extending beyond the first half mile outside the city limits, if Ward County voted to cede jurisdiction to the city. Berthold Township made the request to Ward County regarding the change in jurisdiction, according to Lee. Currently, the township and the city share jurisdiction of that half mile zone around the city.
•Council members reviewed line items for the 2013-2014 budget and estimated revenues of $127,375.00 with expenditures of $367,475.00.
•The next regular meeting of the Berthold City Council will be held Monday, October 7th, beginning at 7:30 pm.